Billionaire Mark Cuban, who's trying to buy baseball's Chicago Cubs, received a recommendation from an unexpected source: National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern.
The owner of the Dallas Mavericks has been fined more than $1.3 million by Stern for criticizing referees. When asked what he would tell Major League Baseball owners about Cuban, Stern replied in an e-mail, "They should welcome him."
Cuban is among five bidders trying to buy the Cubs from Tribune Co., which is selling the franchise, Wrigley Field and a stake in a television network. The Cubs may fetch a record sale price for a U.S. professional franchise at more than $1 billion. Cuban's bid was $1.3 billion, according to Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
"I work hard to be a good partner and contribute as much as I can in the NBA," Cuban said in an e-mail. "Despite what the public perception is, the commissioner and I have a great relationship. I truly appreciate his support."
Twenty-three of baseball's 30 owners must approve the Cubs sale.
The Mavericks became a perennial championship contender with Cuban in charge. The team ended a 10-year playoff drought during his first full season in 2000-01, the start of eight straight postseason appearances. Dallas finished last season with the highest payroll in basketball and had the fourth-highest attendance.
Cuban, who often watches Mavericks games courtside while dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, has also been one of the more innovative owners in the NBA. He advocates putting advertisements on player jerseys, and he also experimented with eliminating sound effects and music during games. He keeps a blog where he writes about his team and technology.
Besides incurring fines, Cuban was one of two NBA owners who voted against the Seattle SuperSonics' move to Oklahoma City.
Cuban, who made his fortune by selling his Broadcast.com to Yahoo! Inc., paid about $200 million to purchase the Mavericks in 2000. The team is now worth $461 million, the sixth-highest in the NBA, according to Forbes magazine.
The other bidders for the Cubs are: Tom Ricketts, the chairman of Incapital LLC whose father founded TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; Michael Tokarz of MVC Capital Inc.; Leo Hindery, managing partner of Intermedia Partners; and Hersch Klaff, a real-estate executive, according to various news reports.
Cuban has been spotted in the Wrigley Field bleachers and has also twice sung "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.